There he is. As she sat on the bench she watched him striding across the park, confidence personified. God, she still got butterflies when she saw him, even after all these years. Her mind drifted back over those years, back to the summer after primary school, when she first started noticing boys and she noticed him above all others.
Back to secondary school, when they started moving in the same social circles and she got to know him, liking him more as she did so. Back to going to college, the excitement she felt when she found out he was at the same university. She thought back to the bars and clubs they used to go to, in a group but not as a couple.
She remembered how close they had gotten, how he always looked after her and made sure she got home OK. There had been a couple of times where something almost happened between them, but it never quite did for one reason or another. She was hurt when he dropped out of university to go travelling. They had kept in contact for a while, but slowly drifted apart, though she followed his adventures on Facebook.
When she saw he was back home, she messaged him to meet up, and he agreed! She almost squealed with delight in the middle of the office when she saw his reply! But she didn’t care. This was it, all those missed chances and ‘what if’s’ were in the past. Fate had brought them back to each other and this would be their time.
People called her a hopeless romantic but she’d show them now that true love does exist. She straightened her skirt and stood up as he approached. She almost had to sit down again as he smiled at her. She threw her arms around him, nearly knocking him over.
“I’m so happy to see you!” she blurted out, holding back tears.
“Good to see you too.” he replied.
“I thought you might not come, might not remember me.” she said coyly, fishing for compliments.
“Oh I remember you alright, how could I forget?” he said with a grin. She let out another squeal of joy and both of them laughed, glad that the ice was broken.
“So what did you want to tell me?” he asked, “I’ve only got a half hour for my lunch break”
“Oh right, yes, of course,” she muttered, flustered. She had pictured them spending the rest of the afternoon together, but that’s OK, they’d have plenty of time later. “Well,” she said, in a sing-song voice, “Now that we’re back in the same country; the same city even, I thought we could finally, you know, give it a go. Like, properly“. God, she thought to herself, why am I falling over my words like this?!
“Give what a go?” he asked, confused.
He’s so silly like that, she thought, typical man – needs things explained to him!
“Us, of course!” she giggled. “We can finally give US a proper go.”
“Us? You and me? Like, a couple?” he stammered. Then he laughed. He actually laughed. His face dropped when he saw she wasn’t laughing. “Oh, you were serious? Sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh. It’s just that you and me… Well, come on. You’re….” and he looked her up and down.
Tears welled up in her eyes and he tried to back pedal.
“I mean, you’re like a sister to me. We had a laugh and all back in the day, and you were great craic on a night out. But you and me as a couple? That’d be….” Again, his words trailed away as she buried her face in her hands. He put a hand on her shoulder, but kept his distance at the same time.
“Look, I have to get back,” he said, his tone as softly as he could manage. “Sure, keep in touch online or whatever, OK?” He patted her shoulder, like you would a dog. She wiped her tears and looked up to see him walk quickly away, shaking his head and typing on his phone. She just stood there by the park, her fairy tale ending into shattered pieces at her feet.